Zande - Settlements



The traditional settlement pattern, later revived with some variations toward the end of the colonial period, was in scattered homesteads, often widely separated from each other by cultivations and forest. Each was home to one man, his wife or wives, his children, and other unmarried dependents. His nearest neighbors were, in precolonial times, usually his closest male relatives and their households. A chief or his deputy would settle near a stream, with kinsmen and clients nearby, connected by radial paths; a king's court was a more elaborate version of the same plan: it was connected by narrow but well-maintained roads to the homesteads of chiefs. More recent settlements range from towns with modern health and educational facilities to hamlets comprising three or four homesteads, still sited in traditional fashion near a stream. Homesteads include two main types of traditional thatched huts: an older, round type with conical roof and a newer, square, gable-roofed type. Also traditional are round clay granaries, usually with access through a movable roof or lid, which are often used as temporary shelters during periods of intensive cultivation. In towns, new houses are usually square; a corrugated-iron or sheet-metal roof is a sign of relative wealth.


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